Archived entries for Music

Billy Bragg, Royal Shakespeare Theatre (2 Jun 13)

Billy Bragg, Stratford-Upon Avon, Iowa T-Shirt

Stratford-Upon-Avon was an appropriate setting for the start of the UK leg of our own modern day touring musical Shakespeare, Billy Bragg. With a rich back catalogue to compliment his most recent material and the ability to speak charismatically at length, alternately sharing new anecdotes and inspiring his audience on the hot topics of the day (with a few puns, pop culture references and punchlines thrown in), he is always worth seeing live, be it at festivals, bookshops, record stores or his own gigs.

As the Bard of Barking came to Shakespeare’s town on a beautiful day, the sun came out, the trees began to sing and half-way through what was the final day of the Stratford-Upon-Avon Arts Festival, steel brass bands played in Bancroft Gardens outside the venue; in the afternoon and early evening leading up to gig, the market stalls were out, there was dancing in the park, pub gardens were packed and scores of people from different backgrounds wandered through the streets of Stratford, including the man himself (pictured above). Who said Society doesn’t exist? Continue reading…

The Tallest Man on Earth, Edinburgh (27 Oct 2012)

Marta-Emilia Bona’s Christmas came early as The Tallest Man on Earth came to Edinburgh. 

Kristian Matsson and I have been through a lot together.

Everyone holds dear an artist that provides an invaluable source of comfort on those days where all you want to do is curl up next to your radiator and feel pathetically sorry for yourself – ‘The Tallest Man on Earth’ is mine. My four-year love affair with the Swedish born folk singer reached its climax on Saturday night, during an enchanting performance at the HMV Picture House, Edinburgh. Continue reading…

Squeeze

Following a documentary on the band, Martin Cloake writes about Squeeze.

Take Me I’m Yours was the latest in what’s proving to be a well-crafted series of documentaries on early 1980s bands, and this one on Squeeze topped even the superb recent Undertones episode. I’ve been a huge fan for years, and I’ve never understood why the band are so often dismissed as pop/pub band candy floss.

I can remember standing with my schoolmates outside a church in Bounds Green, having been told to queue up to get homework during a teachers’ strike in the early 1980s. If you wanted to look cool at the time, you could reel off all the words to Cool for Cats, which was Squeeze’s current hit evoking a Sweeney-like world of coppers and villains in London. These were London boys singing about London things in accents we identified with and although there was something of a novelty appeal about the single – and about the way the tune was marketed – we also sensed there was something more to it. The lyrical dexterity that has attracted thoughtful kids to well-crafted pop music for ages was on display early on. Continue reading…

Leonard Cohen, Wembley Arena (9 Sept 2012)

In her first piece for The Substantive, Simone Webb reviews the return to the London stage of Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen.

Every time I set out to write this review, it sounded increasingly pretentious, as a result of my elaborate attempts both to express my feelings at last night’s Leonard Cohen concert and to mimic the style of other reviews. (You know – “pithy opening line, personal anecdote related to the artist performing, background information, etc, etc, quips, pithy closing line”. The Telegraph even managed to end their review with a truly appalling pun: “this remains a country for old Len”.) I’m not sure it’s much use my trying to do both those things at once, so I’ll stick with trying to express my feelings, and leave the puns and frills to other reviewers.

I can truly say, with no hint of exaggeration, that seeing Leonard Cohen perform at the Wembley Arena was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life so far. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen, Hyde Park (14 July 2012)

At a time when the superficial has become the norm, men and women of substance are like rays of sunlight streaming through dark grey clouds. Governments throughout Europe are allowed to plough on largely critically unchallenged with economic policies that exacerbate a situation they say they are trying to resolve, well-paid barristers use sarcasm as a legitimate form of defence in  high-profile criminal cases, and the masses use the word ‘LOL’ like a full-stop, a disclaimer for any serious thought. Bruce Springsteen is so charismatic and talented he would stand out like a shining beacon in any age, but against the backdrop of fluff that passes for modern life, he is like a saviour that has risen from the streets, a leader and man of the people at the same time. Continue reading…

Sparks, Bush Hall (13 June 2012)

A brisk walk from Shepherd’s Bush and down the Uxbridge Road, Bush Hall has had a bit of a renaissance over the last few years. A renovated Edwardian dance hall, it’s been host to quite a few intimate gigs by well known acts and tonight it was the turn of Sparks. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Profile

Ahead of Bruce Springsteen’s 2012 Tour coming to the UK this month, Alan Fisher writes about the enduring positive values that remain constant in the work of The Boss.

Rock music is fast approaching the Era of the Geriatric. Those stars from six decades of rock and roll who aren’t bloated on royalties or substance abuse are shlepping round revival tours, a pallid cardboard cut-out version of their former selves. Many make more money than they ever did in their heyday. Where the acts themselves can’t quite get it together or didn’t make it this far, tribute bands fill the vacuum. For those of us of a certain age, three chords over a snappy backbeat will always set the toes a-tapping but there’s no denying a lingering unease that we’ve heard it all before.

Bruce Springsteen has chosen a different option. At 62, he’s discovered a rich seam of creativity that shows little sign of running out. After a fallow period in the middle of his career, Springsteen can’t stop writing and touring. As a misunderstood punk-kid on New Jersey streets, the songs tumbled out faster than the embryonic E Street Band could keep up and forty years on little has changed. Albums, concepts, styles from full-blown storming rock through American folk to acoustic, his prolific energy puts his contemporaries to shame. His latest album, Wrecking Ball, released earlier this year, is his 17th studio effort, adding to a catalogue fans own including a cannon of live recordings and collections of previously unreleased material, and he’s already begun a world tour that comes to Britain this month. The album was number one in the States and they still queue overnight for tickets, even though he tours regularly. Seeing Springsteen perform remains special. Continue reading…

The Fall, The Coronet (11 May 2012)

A former theatre and cinema in that most unloved part of London, the Elephant and Castle, the Coronet has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance these last few years as a club and gig venue. Passing through metal detectors and by flustered door staff on my first visit, though, didn’t really instil much confidence in me (especially as I remembered a story from a mate of mine who swore blind that he was once robbed by a dwarf there), but I guess that air of edginess seemed fitting for an appearance by the Fall. Continue reading…

Guernica Anniversary, Filthy MacNasty’s (26 Apr)

Breaking off from his European Tour American singer-songwriter David Rovics rearranged a planned gig in Germany and flew into London to headline the Guernica 75th Anniversary Gala, as Philosophy Football and the International Brigades Memorial Trust took over Filthy MacNasty’s, off the busy Pentonville Road, for the night. Continue reading…

Orbital, Royal Albert Hall (10 April 2012)

After a hiatus of eight years, dance veterans Orbital have returned with a new album and, to dust off the cobwebs, they’ve been back on the road with a short UK tour which closed with a Tuesday night rendezvous at the Royal Albert Hall. It isn’t your usual setting for throwing some shapes, and the various punters (many of whom appeared to be, shall we say, “of a certain age”) were probably as baffled as the uniformed staff – the former more used to being mashed in a field somewhere and the latter to rather more stately affairs. However, once things got going and the lights from the stage started strobing across the balconies of this venerable auditorium, it all kind of made sense. Continue reading…



Copyright © 2004–2009. All rights reserved.

RSS Feed. This blog is proudly powered by Wordpress and uses Modern Clix, a theme by Rodrigo Galindez.